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VIJAY PRASHAD – The World After Obama

When United States President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, he said: “Perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars.” Obama meant the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, although this is a modest answer. The U.S. had been involved in far more than two wars. In 2001, George W. Bush had committed the U.S. to a Global War on Terror at any time and at any place. U.S. Special Forces and drone aircraft had been involved in combat operations in far more than two countries.

No other country has as expansive a footprint as the U.S. There are 800 U.S. military bases in 80 countries, sentry posts around the planet for U.S. interests. Neither China nor Russia is not anywhere near the U.S. in terms of military reach. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the U.S. had no competitor on the global stage. It prosecuted war without worry or challenge. This was evident in Iraq in 1991. Lack of effective constraint on U.S. ambitions forced the leadership of the United Nations to sanctify America’s wars. After the fiasco of its Iraq invasion in 2003, the U.S. found its legitimacy eroded. The U.N. was dragooned to hastily pass a new mandate, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine of 2005, which suggested that U.N.-member states could intervene in a domestic conflict if civilians were being harmed.

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